House Will Vote On Short-Term Debt Limit Suspension Wednesday

Suspension would last until May 19. Sequester and a continuing resolution to fund the government remain in flux.

Susan Walsh / AP

WASHINGTON — The House will vote Wednesday on whether to suspend the debt limit until May 19, House Republican leaders said Tuesday, a move that would address one of three fiscal threats facing Congress, if only temporarily.

Lawmakers will face off over the other two issues, the sequester and the continuing resolution to fund the government, within the next few weeks.

For the time being, the White House and the Senate indicated Tuesday that they would support the debt limit measure.

But the debt limit suspension would come with some strings attached: The measure would also suspend salaries for members of Congress if the Senate does not approve a budget.

“The last time they passed a budget, the iPad hadn’t even been introduced,” said Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday.

Technically, the Senate could pass a brief, non-binding budget resolution that does not include specific line items to satisfy the bill’s budget requirement.

And, technically, members of Congress would still receive their pay — eventually.

The 27th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits salary changes for members of Congress from taking effect until the subsequent Congress. As such, House Republicans are proposing merely withholding current salaries until the end of the this Congress, at which lawmakers would receive their full pay.

Even so, at their press conference Tuesday, House Republican leaders trotted out the catchphrase, “No budget, no pay,” which they also turned into a Twitter hashtag: #NoBudgetNoPay.

Looking ahead to the battles over the sequester and a continuing resolution to fund the federal government, Speaker John Boehner would not comment on whether closing tax loopholes would be part of deficit-reduction discussions, as during fiscal cliff talks at the end of last year.

“We will not raise taxes on the American people,” Boehner said simply, before he moved on to another topic.

But the speaker indicated that Republican leaders will aim for a balanced budget in even less time than the span proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, two to three decades.

“It’s time for us to come to a plan that will in fact balance the budget over the next 10 years,” Boehner said. “It’s our commitment to the American people, and we hope the Senate will do their budget as they should have done over the last four years.”

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